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Florida Sees Cases Spike, Record Daily Death Toll; Democrats Clash with Barr on Host of Issues; U.S. Lawmakers to Question Tech Leaders on Competition; Innovator Develops New Solution to Toxic Wastewater; Russia Claims First Coronavirus Vaccine Within Two Weeks; Five U.S. States Break Records for Most Deaths in One Day; White House Recommends Some States Close Bars; Mexicans Travel to U.S. for Coronavirus Treatment; India Nears 1.5 Million Confirmed Cases; China Reports Highest Number of New Cases since April; Baseball Season in Question as Positive Tests Grow. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, I'm John Vause.

Ahead this hour, Russia claims to have fast-tracked a coronavirus vaccine, which should be approved within 2 weeks despite cutting corners on human trials.

The pandemic death toll surges in five U.S. states with warnings others will soon follow.

And this.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEES: Mr. Barr, are you investigating Donald Trump for commuting the prison sentence of his long-time friend, political adviser Roger Stone?


SWALWELL: Why not?

BARR: Why should I?

VAUSE (voice-over): A smug, defiant U.S. attorney general stonewalls Democrats on Capitol Hill.


VAUSE: We have a busy 3 hours ahead of us here, thanks for being with us and we will begin with a CNN exclusive.

Mark the date, August 10th; that's when officials in Moscow say a vaccine for the coronavirus should receive approval, less than 2 weeks away. This would be a world first, what has been described as a modern-day Sputnik moment.

But the pace of development and the decision to cut corners on human trials raising serious safety concerns. CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance reports now from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russian officials are calling it a Sputnik moment, a technological leap like the unexpected launch into space of the first satellite back in the 1950s.

Now Russian officials say it's the coronavirus vaccine that is being launched into the global pandemic to highlight Russian scientific achievement. This is the clearest indication we've had yet as to when that Russian vaccine will be approved for us.

Russian officials telling CNN they're working towards a date of August the 10th, perhaps even earlier, extraordinarily quick, party according to Russian officials, because of the technology they are using.

They've used it successfully in the past on other vaccines but also, undeniably, because human trials would still be incomplete when the vaccine is approved. Russian officials tell CNN that third phase human trials will be conducted only in parallel with the vaccination of frontline medical workers.

Risky, of course, but given the acute coronavirus problem in Russia, which has reported the fourth highest number of infections in the world, it's apparently a risk that the authorities here are willing to take.

There is enormous skepticism around the world about the effectiveness and the safety of this Russian vaccine. Critics say Russia's push for it comes amid political pressure from the Kremlin and allegations that Russian spies hacked U.S., Canadian and British labs for vaccine secrets.

Also, no test data has been released by Russia so far. The Russian officials now tell me that that data will be made available for publication and peer review early next month, which will undoubtedly attract a great deal of international scrutiny -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: As for other promising vaccines, which are following standard safety protocols as well as testing, there's the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, which began advanced trials for one of their candidates.

The first 4 volunteers were injected in the U.S. on Monday. The combined phase 2-3 trial will eventually include up to 30,000 participants. If it works, Pfizer and BioNTech say they could supply up to 100 million doses by the end of the year and 1.3 billion by the end of next year.

Here is biotech company Moderna, also entering phase 3 with its candidate. These potential vaccines are among 25 in clinical trials around the world, according to the WHO.

Brazil expects distribution of 15 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of December, assuming it is proven safe. The government and the vaccine makers have not signed purchase agreement yet but thousands of Brazilian volunteers have been taking part in phase 3 trials.

Brazil reported nearly 41,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing its total number of infections to just shy of 2.5 million, the second highest in the world.

Here in the U.S., five states are reporting a record number of deaths in the past 24 hours.


VAUSE: California, Florida, Arkansas, Montana and Oregon. Johns Hopkins University reported about 1,200 fatalities in the U.S. on Tuesday, putting the country closer to 150,000 dead.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the surge could be peaking in the South and West, while other states, including Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky may be on the cusp of a new outbreak.

Meantime, Donald Trump once again touting the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment. Almost every major study has found it to be ineffective for COVID-19, potentially harmful, even fateful (sic).


TRUMP: I happen to think it works in the early stages. Many front line medical people believe that, too, some, many. And so we'll take a look at it.

But the one thing we know, it's been out for a long time. It doesn't cause problems. I had no problem. I had absolutely no problem, felt no different, didn't feel good, bad or indifferent. I -- and I tested, as you know, it didn't -- it didn't get me and it's not going to hopefully hurt anybody.



VAUSE: Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips is the chief medical officer at Providence Health System, a CNN medical analyst and she is with us from Seattle in the state of Washington.

Doctor, thanks for being with us.

DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me. VAUSE: To back up his faith in chloroquine, the president re-tweeted

a clip from a speech given by Dr. Stella Immanuel. Facebook removed the video because it was showing false information.

But regardless of that, the president seem quite impressed, here he is.


TRUMP: I thought she was very impressive in the sense that, from where she came, I don't know which country she comes from. But she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice but I know nothing about her.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Last week you said masks -- last week --


TRUMP: Thank you very much everybody.


VAUSE: OK, so apart from the doctor's claims that chloroquine curing COVID-19 and saying that masks do not work, Dr. Immanuel has also claimed that gynecological problems like cysts are caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches, alien DNA is being used in medical treatments and the government is run by reptilians and other aliens.

That could be true.

There must be some kind of responsibility here for the president of the United States not to use the loudest megaphone in the world to promote a bizarre claim being about demon dream sex or chloroquine.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Well, fortunately he only focused on the latter, not the former but even that is not good. What we really have to do is be coherent and consistent in talking about the science behind what we use to treat COVID.

And we now have multiple, really high quality studies that look at hydroxychloroquine. Even though, theoretically, it could be good, which is why people started investigating it back early in the spring, all the studies that have come out have been consistent and saying it doesn't matter when you take it, whether it's early or in the middle or late, hydroxychloroquine does not work to help battle COVID.

VAUSE: In case anyone was in any doubt, here is Dr. Fauci saying exactly the same thing you did. Here he is.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.


VAUSE: How much time and energy are we going to waste on this asinine discussion about chloroquine when people are dying in record numbers?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Unfortunately, too much. Even the fact that we are still talking about this when it has been proven not to be the case is an issue. And part of the issue is that we learn from our own experience.

So think about all those times when you grew up and did not wear a seatbelt in the car because people did not realize how important it was, right?

But your experience was, well, I did not have an accident or die without wearing my seat belt. So some people take hydroxychloroquine, it's an antimalarial drug, people take it for malaria.

So if they travel to a country where they need to have it for malaria, they might have taken it and been OK. That doesn't mean that it's OK for everyone all the time. Not taking a drug that is risky is preferred to taking a drug that is risky. It's like riding in a car with a seatbelt is better than riding without one.

What can we do to optimize the risk?

VAUSE: We're hearing from the White House, recommendations for five states to shut down bars and reimpose restrictions on movement. The governor of Kentucky, a Democrat, said he would follow this advice, while the governor of Tennessee, a Republican, said no.

I don't know if there's a huge difference between Kentucky and Tennessee. But it doesn't seem to be.

And is it possible to see these decisions in any other way than through the lens of partisan politics?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Unfortunately, something as simple as being able to follow CDC recommendations and guidelines has gotten politicized.


COMPTON-PHILLIPS: And so now there is this intrinsic belief that if you are probing, careful and pro wearing a mask, you are anti- business. And that's not the case at all.

It's about saying how do we do both?

How do we keep people safe and open up the economy?

The one thing we can do is, if we do have these two very similar states with politicized differences on how to go about opening up the economy in a way that protects people, is we can at least study it and lets learn from it so that we can make sure we do it right next time. VAUSE: Our lead story this hour is a report from CNN's Matthew Chance

from Moscow that Russia plans to approve a fast-tracked vaccine within 2 weeks. At this point, phase 2 trials still have not finished. Developers plan to complete that phase by August 3rd and then conduct a third phase of testing in parallel with the vaccination of medical workers.

How concerned are you about the cutting of the corners here, the risks are being taken and, if this all goes badly, how could that impact public confidence on other vaccines, which are currently being developed?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It's a huge risk. So we talk about phase, 1 2 and 3 trials. One is abut are they promising and are they safe?

Phase 2 is what's the right dose and are they promising and safe?

And phase 3 is about, let's make sure they actually work and what are the side effects.

In phase one is with tens of people, 2 is with hundreds, phase 3 is with thousands of people. If we don't have that thousands of people data behind us, we're not going to know what the downsides are. We're not going to look patients eye to eye and say this is safe and this is why I think it should work for you, right and be able to tell our patients with verified data what is the best thing for them.

So without that, we are putting significant people at risk without good information for them. So it could really subvert our goal of ensuring we don't just have vaccines but we have vaccinations because vaccines don't work if they're still in a tube. We have to have people willing to get the jab in the arm.

VAUSE: Yes, that confidence in the safety of the vaccine is crucial and it could backfire. Dr. Amy Compton Phillips, thank you. Good to see you.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Mexico is the latest country to confirmed more than 400,000 cases of coronavirus. The outbreak there is one of the worst in the world but not nearly as bad as the crisis in the U.S. right next door.

Still, a rising number of Mexicans are traveling to the U.S. because they believe its health care system is better equipped. CNN's Matt Rivers has our report.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Among those waiting outside public hospitals in Tijuana, Mexico, death is a constant companion.

(INAUDIBLE) Lopez did not get a chance to say goodbye to her father in law before COVID-19 took him.

She says, "Imagine a family member suddenly gets hospitalized and you just never see them again."

Tijuana and its state of Baja, California, are among Mexico's hardest hit regions. For months health care workers have told us about overwhelmed hospitals plagued by a lack of supplies. Roughly 20 percent of those diagnosed here with COVID have died.

This nurse says, "We were not prepared for the magnitude of what was and is the pandemic."

RIVERS: Tijuana sits just across that border there from the U.S. state of California and though it's closed to all nonessential travel, if you are legally allowed to be in the U.S., be it as a citizen, permanent resident or otherwise, you can still cross and, if you want to, seek treatment at a U.S. hospital.

RIVERS (voice-over): Which is exactly what Dr. Patricio Gonzalez Zuniga did when her husband got the virus. The couple are dual U.S.- Mexico citizens but live in Tijuana, where Dr. Gonzales Zuniga has worked for decades, treating the city's poor.

She says the public health system is broken. So when her husband got really sick, going to the U.S. for care was an easy choice.


DR. PATRICIO GONZALEZ ZUNIGA, DUAL U.S.-MEXICAN CITIZEN: It's like a decision of stay and maybe, you know, 50 percent chance that you will die or just go and get services.


RIVERS (voice-over): At nearby Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, we learn her story is not unique. The hospital has been at or near capacity for months, in part because of patients from across the border.

In July alone, it has admitted more than 50 COVID patients who recently came from Mexico. The hospital says the vast majority of patients who traveled from Mexico test positive.

DR. JUAN MANUEL TOVAR, SCRIPPS MERCY HOSPITAL CHULA VISTA: It does create stress in the system and we have to deal with it.

Dr. Jose (sic) Manuel Tovar says, at its peak 50 percent of all COVID patients at the hospital had been south of the border. But the number has gone down as new cases in Baja, California, have slowed.

But cases in California have spiked recently so his fear is if the same happens in Mexico, a tough situation could get even worse but he says this is the border and everything is shared, culture, commerce and COVID care.

TOVAR: This is one region. I have no qualms about seeing patients from Mexico.

[00:15:00] RIVERS (voice-over): Dr. Gonzales Zuniga, for one, is extremely grateful for that fact. Her husband spent 14 days in a California ICU, nearly intubated several times. But he lived.

RIVERS: What do you think would have happened if he was in a public hospital in Mexico?

GONZALES ZUNIGA: He would not be with me now. He would be dead.

RIVERS (voice-over): She calls herself lucky and, compared to the Lopez family, she is. They couldn't get care in the U.S.

"Maybe we could have gotten him better care over there, more opportunity."

But now, after the death of her father in law, that is nothing more than a hypothetical question -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Tijuana, Mexico.


VAUSE: It just keeps coming back, the coronavirus in China. Once again spreading fast at a rate not seen in months.

Also ahead, same for Europe. The virus is spreading once again, sparking fears of a possible second wave.




VAUSE: India, fast approaching 1.5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Only the U.S. and Brazil have more. In recent days, there's been a record number of new infections in India, killing more than 33,000 people in total. Vedika Sud is live this hour in New Delhi.

This is a question so many governments and countries are facing.

What do they do now?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: These are worrying numbers. Let me tell you this. It took us over 4 months to get to 1 million cases. It has taken us 12 days in India to get to an additional half million. That itself speaks volumes.

Yes, we are the second most populated country in the world. Therefore, we have a population of 1.3 billion people. But along with, that some experts are seeing that the states aren't learning from each other.

If one state goes ahead and builds more COVID centers, additional ventilators, the other states are not learning from them. They're waiting for the peak to hit in their states before they take action. So they are more reactive than proactive. That's one reason we have seen these numbers go up. (INAUDIBLE) tops

the charts as far as the total number of infections in the state is concerned being higher than the others There is a decrease in the 24 R numbers compared to other states.

Now it's the south where the focus is. Southern India has a lot of cases also coming up at this point in time. Also, the government had announced, if you remember, in the beginning of June that they would be unlocking the restrictions they had imposed for four successive (ph) lockdowns.

We might see the unlocking happening on the 1st of August. This would be phase 3 but air travel and (INAUDIBLE) could open up along with other sectors like cinema halls, perhaps gyms.

But the question is, is this the right time to do that, given the numbers that we have?

Thankfully, at this point in time, colleges and schools remain closed, which is a huge relief for parents across the country.

VAUSE: Vedika, thank you, Vedika Sud there in New Delhi. Thank you.


VAUSE: For the first time in 3 months, China has confirmed more than 100 daily infections of coronavirus. Health officials say most of the cases were locally transmitted and came primarily from the western province of Xinjiang. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout has been following this for us. She is live in Hong Kong with the details.

So what can you tell us about this latest outbreak in Xinjiang?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it is a significant jump in new COVID-19 cases in China, especially in the western region of changing. Yesterday, China reported about 68 new COVID-19 cases. Today, the number is 101.

China's national health commission presented the most recent data earlier today. It represents the highest single day jump in new cases since early April. Let's bring up the data for you.

China is reporting 101 new cases, including 98 locally transmitted cases. Of the 98, 89 were reported in Xinjiang; 8 in Liaoning and 1 in Beijing. That is a total of 86,982 confirmed cases.

Let's bring up another slide and zero in on Xinjiang. All of their 89 new cases are in the capital of Urumqi. Xinjiang is --


STOUT: -- confirmed cases are in the capital.

John, given the opaque nature of reporting anything related to Xinjiang, it is hard to get concrete detail or video out of that region. But this is what we know. All of these cases are linked to a gathering activity in the capital of Urumqi. Those infected have not been abroad this year.

The concentration of the cases are linked to the Tianshan district of Urumqi, which is the core downtown area of the Xinjiang capital. You have residential sites, commercial sites, cultural sites all mixed together.

It was a week ago when local officials in Urumqi declared the city was in wartime mode. Residents are living in community compounds. They have been banned from leaving their compounds for a week now. Subway service, bus service had been suspended for a week. Widespread testing is underway -- John.

VAUSE: Kristie, what's the situation in Beijing?

There was one new case today.

How are they keeping the situation contained there?

It's the capital, so there's a lot of focus there.

STOUT: Absolutely. Beijing reported one new case today. The official emergency health response in the Chinese capital city remains low. Parks are open. Coffee shops are open. Shopping malls and restaurants are open.

But according to our colleagues in the bureau in Beijing, they say a number of shopping centers, restaurants and businesses have brought back health screening measures that they had suspended. If you enter a shopping center or restaurant in Beijing, you will have that thermal temperature check as well as your health code check on your smartphone.

They're looking for the green QR code to indicate that you are COVID- 19 free. It seems that restaurants there, business people there, in general, they don't want to take any additional risk. They don't want to return to another wave of infection, which Beijing had most recently experienced back in June.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you.

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is warning of a resurgence in coronavirus in Europe. And he is defending new travel restrictions imposed by the U.K., saying the time to act is now. Nic Robertson reports now from London.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Here in London, the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, says there are signs that a second coronavirus wave is hitting Europe.

This comes hard on the heels of a surprise decision by the British government over the weekend to impose 14-day quarantine on British tourists returning from Spain. The Spanish prime minister has called the decision unjust. There is disagreement between Britain and Spain over this. The British prime minister defending his position. But across Europe at the moment, we are seeing increases in

coronavirus cases in Croatia, Belgium, Germany and France. The British government very aware that it was very heavily criticized for not acting swiftly enough during the first wave of the pandemic.

People in the country complained they should have put quarantine measures in place then for international travelers, pushed back on the tourism industry in the U.K. But the prime minister defending this decision -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


VAUSE: There's growing concern the Major League Baseball season could end in the early innings. ESPN reports 17 players and coaches on the Miami Marlins have tested positive for coronavirus. At least eight games have now been postponed.


CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: It is a very real and pertinent question.

Will Major League Baseball have to shut down its season?

Obviously, that's dramatic right now to say yes, they will.


BRENNAN: But anyone looking at this logically has to think that one of the possibilities we will see here over the next few days and weeks is that Major League Baseball will have to shut down.

That certainly makes nobody happy. This is certainly not something that -- words that I would even want to say. But Major League Baseball is in danger of losing its season. It's not there yet. But one wonders how much more we will need to have happen for that to occur.


VAUSE: In the National Football League, 21 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since reporting to training camp. More than 100 tested positive during the off-season.

At the time, there was no doubt the bush fires in Australia were bad. Now we know just how bad. One of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.

A new study finds nearly 3 billion animals were killed or displaced by those bush fires. Some now face the threat of extinction. The crisis is renewing calls for urgent action on climate change. CNN's Simon Cullen reports.


SIMON CULLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These koalas are some of the lucky ones, rescued from Australia's catastrophic fires and slowly nursed back to health. Others, though, were not so lucky. During the peak of the fire crisis, it was thought that just over a billion animals were affected. But a new report now puts the figure at close to 3 billion.

LILY VAN EEDEN, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: It doesn't include everything. We haven't included invertebrates. We haven't included some groups that we didn't have had data for. So, it really hits home the scale of the impact of these fires on our wildlife.

CULLEN: Aerial footage taken in the aftermath of the fires shows hectare after hectare of scorched bushland. Those animals which managed to avoid the flames were left without water and food, their habitats destroyed.

DARREN GROVER, WWF AUSTRALIA: It shows you just how devastating these fires are, the intensity of these fires and the scale over which they occurred.

CULLEN: Scientists say the record-breaking bush fire season is a worrying sign of things to come, urging governments to do more to tackle climate change and protect native vegetation.

CHRIS DICKMAN, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: One thing we really need to be looking at is how quickly can we decarbonize? How quickly can we stop our manic land clearing?

CULLEN: But for some animals, it's already too late. And for the rest, it is a changed world. One in which they are ever more reliant on humans to act to ensure their survival -- Simon Cullen, CNN.


VAUSE: With infections growing at a record pace, Bolivia declares the coronavirus a public calamity. Details, when we come back.

Also ahead, a combative congressional hearing: Democrats level pointed attacks at the U.S. attorney general. He stonewalls in reply.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: In the U.S. after week of surging cases, now the inevitable: a surging death rate, with record fatalities in five states on Tuesday.


According to Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 claimed more than 1,100 lives nationwide on Tuesday, pushing the death toll towards the 150,000 mark.

More now from CNN's Nick Watt.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day Florida started to reopen, May 4, there are 819 new cases confirmed in the state. Today, 11 times that, 9,210, and the state's highest death toll to date. MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH: We've got to have the virus down.

We've got to get our contact tracing in place. We've learned that we didn't have enough people at all to sort of even call people up and say you need to quarantine. Who else were you with?

WATT: The city of Miami now offering free tests for kids across the state. Cases in children and teens have climbed.

But across the country, many test results are now taking so long that they're basically worthless.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We just can't afford yet again another surge. If you are trying to open up, please do it in a way that's in accordance with the guidelines.

WATT: Along with that Sun Belt surge, concern now moving a little north, average daily case counts now higher than ever. In Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee where, despite this plea from Dr. Deborah Birx --

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Stop going to bars, and indeed, close the bars.

WATT: -- the governor just won't.

Many places, this now also a major concern. Crowds of unmasked concert-goers in Colorado. A drive-in chain smoker's gig in swanky Southampton, New York. But people got out of their cars and mingled, unmasked.

Videos like this have sparked an investigation.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It was a gross violation of common sense.

WATT: New Jersey cops say they spent hours breaking up a 700-strong mansion party at an Airbnb rental.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): You're looking for trouble. You're absolutely looking for trouble.

WATT: Meanwhile, four more Miami Marlins have tested positive, according to ESPN. All their games this week are now postponed. The Yankees/Philly series also postponed.

ROB MANFRED, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL COMMISSIONER: Eighteen, losing a number of players that rendered it completely noncompetitive will be an issue that we would have to address, whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season.

WATT: And football preseason games have been canceled. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall announced in an open letter the regular season still on, but every player and coach currently subject to daily tests. According to Goodell, this process has not been easy.

(on camera): Here in California, there was excitement Tuesday. Only 6,000 or so new cases reported by the state, well below the 9,000-plus average we've been seeing recently.

And then a state official came out and said, Hang on. We think that there might be a delay in some reporting. And that's why the number is so low.

California, still really in the teeth of this.

Nick Watt, CNN, Loa Angeles.


VAUSE: To Latin America now. Columbia plans to extend some restrictions after a record number of new coronavirus cases. The mayor of Bogota tells CNN the goal should now be mitigation of the virus, because it's impossible to eradicate it.

Columbia is one of several countries in Latin America where the outbreak is yet the peak. Neighboring Brazil, though, is by far the hardest hit, on Tuesday confirming 40,000 new cases, pushing its total to nearly two and a half million.

Argentina has confirmed its highly -- highest daily death toll since the pandemic began. Some hospitals are now concerned intensive care units could soon reach capacity. The health ministry says authorities are working to provide more beds.

Bolivia has declared a state of public calamity as it struggles to contain its own outbreak. The move is intended to address the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.

Journalist Stefano Pozzeban has details.


STEFANO POZZEBAN, JOURNALIST (voice-over): Desperate times are indeed when people turn to desperate measures. These prisoners rioting in Cochabamba, Bolivia, because an inmate reportedly died from COVID-19. They want to get tested and are begging for medicine and access to doctors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There are no doctors. There is no medicine. They are dying inside. They can't let them die. We're all human beings.

POZZEBAN: The Bolivian government, already reeling from a sharp spike in coronavirus cases, has declared a state of public calamity due to the economic fallout from the virus. As the death toll rises, and more citizens become exposed, people are turning to untested, unproven, and potentially dangerous treatments to try and combat the deadly illness.


Residents like Doniza Flores (ph), who admits to purchasing (ph) hydrogen peroxide, despite public health warnings about the toxic nature of the natural bleach, like disinfectants used for water treatment plans. DONIZA FLORES (PH), RESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Authorities say you

have to consult with your doctor. What doctor? We never had a doctor. Poor people, we don't have doctors.

POZZEBAN: One of the poorest nations in Latin America, Bolivia has been especially hard-hit by the pandemic. The interim Bolivian president, the mayor of La Paz, and more than 12 other government officials have all tested positive for COVID. Hospitals are overflowing with patients, cemeteries and crematoriums struggling to manage the volume of incoming dead. Not one area of its society has been spared by its cost.

But Bolivia's health ministry says those promoting chlorine dioxide as a coronavirus treatment will be prosecuted, as the compound can cause severe vomiting, life-threatening low blood pressure, acute liver failure and possible death.

DR. RENE SAHONERO, BOLIVIAN HEALTH MINISTRY ADVISOR (through translator): It is not appropriate for human consumption and that it can have grave consequences for human beings in the body. We have even seen cases of chlorine dioxide poisoning.

POZZEBAN: And yet, some of its main proponents? A local government official in the hard-hit area of Cochabamba, religions leaders, as well as opposition lawmakers.

The Bolivian senate has adopted a measure to "manufacture, market, supply and use of chlorine dioxide solution for the prevention and treatment of coronavirus." But the Bill has to clear the deputies chamber and survive a potential presidential veto, an outcome which is highly unlikely.

Despite the deadly warnings and the proof whatsoever of its effectiveness against COVID-19, people are waiting in long lines outside of pharmacies to try and get their hands on it. Their fear of the virus stronger than their fear of the disinfectant's dangerous and possibly deadly side effects.

Stefano Pozzeban, CNN.


VAUSE: Well, he's been in their crosshairs for months, and when the U.S. attorney general appeared before Congress, Democrats let loose. Details on a Capitol grilling in a moment.

And the world's most popular tech CEO will soon be next on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers complaining a small number of companies have too much dominance over the digital landscape.


VAUSE: Well, it was a Democrat free-for-all on Tuesday when the U.S. attorney general appeared on Capitol Hill. He was grilled over a seemingly countless number of controversies, and through it all, he remained smug, and he stonewalled lawmakers. Manu Raju has details.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorney General Bill Barr on the hot seat, facing the House Judiciary Committee for the first time in his tenure. And Democrats had a litany of concerns, accusing Barr of using the Justice Department to do the political bidding of a president who has abused his power.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): You have aided and abetted the worst feelings of the president.

RAJU: Barr fired back.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: He has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgment to make whatever call I think is right, and that is precisely what I've done.

RAJU: Republicans came to Barr's defense, saying he was being treated unfairly.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): We're seeming to just contort ourselves to get to some way to show that you have nefarious motive.

RAJU: Barr came under fire for his role in ordering peaceful protesters to be forcibly cleared from Lafayette Square last month in front of the White House, allowing the president to cross the street for a photo-op in front of a church.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Do you think that it was appropriate at Lafayette Park to pepper spray, tear gas, and beat protesters and injure American citizens?

BARR: Well, I don't accept your characterization of what happened, but as I explained, the effort there was --

JAYAPAL: Mr. Barr, I just asked for a yes or no, so let me just tell you, because I'm starting to lose my temper.

RAJU: While also defending the actions of federal agents, sent to respond to protests in Portland, Oregon, even though local officials there say the Trump administration has only made the tense situation worse.

BARR: The U.S. Marshals have a duty to stop that and defend the courthouse, and that's what we are doing in Portland.

RAJU: The protests have escalated in the wake of the killing of George Floyd an unarmed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police, but Barr pointedly denied there's an issue with systemic racism in law enforcement.

BARR: It seems far more likely that the problem stems from a complex mix of factors.

RAJU: Barr has intervened in cases involving the president's associates, seeking to dismiss a criminal case against former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI; and seeking a lighter sentence for the president's longtime friend Roger Stone, who was convicted on seven charges, including witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstructing a proceeding.

While President Trump later commuted Stone's sentence, Barr told the House committee that the prosecutors' recommended sentence of 7 to 9 years was too severe.

REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): Can you think of any cases where the defendant threatened to kill a witness, threatened to -- threatened a judge, lied to a judge, where the Department of Justice claimed that those were mere technicalities. Can you think of even one?

BARR: The judge agreed with our --

DEUTCH: Can you think of even one? I'm not asking about the judge. I'm asking about what you did to reduce the sentence of -- of Roger Stone.

BARR: Yes, there are --

DEUTCH: Can you think -- Mr. Attorney General, he threatened the life of a witness --

BARR: And the witness said he didn't feel threatened.

DEUTCH: -- and you view that as a technicality? The appearances is that, as you said earlier, this is exactly what you want. The essence of rule of law is that we have one rule for everybody.

BARR: That's right.

DEUTCH: And we don't in this case, because he's a friend of the president.


RAJU: Now Democrats' concern with Bill Barr stem back to last year, his handling of the Mueller report. They believe he mischaracterized that report when he put out an initial summary, but also fighting with him in court to try to get more documents related to that report.

And also, during the hearing, there was an exchange between David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Bill Barr. Cicilline asked whether or not it's appropriate at all for any campaign to ask for any foreign assistance whatsoever.

First, Bill Barr responded it depends on what kind of assistance. Cicilline was perplexed. He pushed further, and Cicilline -- eventually Barr responded, No, it's not appropriate.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


VAUSE: Norman Eisen is Democrat counsel during the Trump impeachment. His latest book is, "A Case for the American People: The United States v. Donald J. Trump." He was also ethics czar for the Obama White House.

Norm, it's been a long time, so good to see you.

NORMAN EISEN, AUTHOR, "A CASE FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE": John, great to be back with you.

VAUSE: OK. Very quickly, let's start with the big picture to -- TO this hearing. Barr testified that President Trump told him, Exercise independent judgment. Given how vocal Trump has been on issues like sentencing of his friends, saying, Be independent, that seems a bit like the mob boss saying, I can trust you to do the right thing.

EISEN: That's right, John. This is like two Mafiosi talking for the federal wiretap.

If you look at Barr's career, the Mueller report, where he lied about the Mueller report. I'm not saying that. A federal judge said he misrepresented.

Ukraine. He came up with an excuse not to turn over the whistleblower report. His DOJ did it anyway. Over 70 inspectors general said was false.

COVID, where a Hawaii judge threw out his effort to defend the president's behavior.

And -- and of course, the protests where he lied today about not using tear gas. I mean, that is the opposite of independent judgment, and he just dug that grave deeper in the hearing today.


VAUSE: Well, in his own defense, Barr posed this rhetorical question to lawmakers. Here he is.


BARR: I'm supposedly punishing the president's enemies and helping his friends? What enemies have I indicted? Who -- could you point to one indictment that has been under the department that you feel is -- is unmerited? That you feel violates the rule of law? One indictment.


VAUSE: You know, the question is very narrow. There are many actions an attorney general can take. Indictment is just one of them. So how would you respond to Mr. Barr?

EISEN: Well, John, in my book, "A Case for the American People," I describe Trump's crimes, but if Trump is the criminal in chief, Barr is the enabler in chief. And he's like the jailer who beats an inmate with a rubber hose and then says, Show me the bruises.

What he did on the Mueller report, the lies on Ukraine, on COVID, on these protesters, those are all things done to lash out at the president's enemies.

VAUSE: For the most part, Barr was sort of smug. He stonewalled Democrats when it came to controversies like Trump using his pardon power to commute the prison sentence for his friend and convicted liar, Roger Stone. Here's an exchange between Barr and Rep. Eric Swalwell.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): You said that, that a president swapping a pardon to silence a witness would be a crime. You were promising the American people that if you saw that, you would do something about it. Is that right?

BARR: That's right.

SWALWELL: Now, Mr. Barr, are you investigating Donald Trump for commuting the prison sentence of his longtime friend and political adviser, Roger Stone?


SWALWELL: Why not?

BARR: Why should I?


VAUSE: The judge was very clear. In the rulings he said, you know, Roger Stone was not standing up for the president. He was covering up for the president. So again, respond to the attorney general. Why should he?

EISEN: Well, because the reason that Barr should investigate is because there's a lot of evidence of an obstruction of justice conspiracy. I lay that out in my book, John, and including new evidence pinpointing a critical call that Roger Stone made.

Stone has the dirt on Trump's desire to have Russia intervene in our elections, and Trump has dangled and then given this commutation in exchange for Stone staying mum.

VAUSE: Finally, there was an exchange between Rep. Jayapal and William Barr. And she made the point here that he is the attorney general for the entire country, the United States of America, not just President Trump. Here she is.


JAYAPAL: There is a real discrepancy in how you react as the attorney general, the top cop in this country, when white men with swastikas storm a government building with guns. There is no need for the president to, quote, "activate you," because they're getting the president's personal agenda done.

But when black people and people of color protest police brutality, systemic racism and the president's very own lack of response to those critical issues, then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers, pepper bombs, because they are considered terrorists by the president.


VAUSE: You know, Barr didn't even really try and address it. But you know, no matter the controversy with William Barr, it seems this double standard is at the heart of it.

EISEN: Well, that's -- that's right, John. And that is the opposite of what we expect in the American rule of law system. The attorney general is supposed to be independent.

And I was so glad that Congresswoman Jayapal spoke out about that. And one other thing we saw today that was very troubling, and I got notes from people in the room, Barr behaved differently towards the members of Congress who were women and people of color.

So there are multiple double standards going on here. That's terrible in anyone, but in the man who is in charge of enforcing our civil rights laws and assuring that there's equality under law, it is a doubly troubling double standard.

VAUSE: Norm, great to see you, thanks.

EISEN: Nice to see you, thanks.

VAUSE: In the coming hours, CEOs from four of the world's most powerful and influential companies will be the focus of an historic antitrust hearing, the first by the U.S. Congress in more than 20 years.

Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook will face questions about their dominance of the tech economy and whether they have too much control.

Here's CNN's Clare Sebastian with details.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When these four CEOs come before Congress, albeit remotely, it will be hard to know who is the most powerful in the room.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Google controls nearly all the search market in the United States. Amazon controls nearly half of all online commerce in the United States. Facebook has approximately 2.7 billion monthly active users across its platforms. And finally, Apple is under increasing scrutiny for abusing its role as both a player and a referee in the app stores.

[00:50:12] SEBASTIAN: A yearlong congressional investigation is looking for ways to check that power in what experts say will require a new understanding of U.S. competition law.

WILLIAM KOVACIC, FORMER CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: A major point of these hearings is to move away from a conception of competition law as focusing on the well-being of citizens as purchasers of goods and services, and to adopt a broader conception that looks at the citizen as an employee, as a resident of a community, as a consumer of news.

SEBASTIAN: The four companies have all denied anti-competitive behavior.

NATHAN SUTTON, ASSOCIATE GENERAL COUNSEL, AMAZON: We did not use any seller data for -- to compete with them.

SEBASTIAN: Apple even commissioning a study last week that found its app store commission rates were in line with others.

Several have also voiced concerns that regulation might make them less competitive globally.

SUNDAR PICHAI, GOOGLE & ALPHABET CEO: I worry that, if you regulate for the sake of regulating it, there's a lot of unintended consequences. You know, if you take a technology like artificial intelligence, you know -- you know, it will have implications for our national security and -- you know, and how -- or for other important areas of society.

SEBASTIAN: And yet, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has made these companies ever more essential and more valuable, they've been facing growing backlash. Protests over safety at Amazon, and an advertiser boycott of Facebook over hate speech.

KOVACIC: I think they come into the hearing not with the halo, but with great concerns about exactly whose side they're on. And that should be a matter of concern.

Again, you look at the mood of the Congress, you look at how Republicans joined Democrats today in scolding these companies, that's a combustible environment for the leading enterprises.

SEBASTIAN: The House investigation is expected to lead to a recommendation for new legislation, perhaps bringing greater scrutiny of tech acquisitions: Deals like Facebook's purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram, and Google buying YouTube and Fitbit.

It could also ramp up the pressure on other ongoing investigations. A delicate moment for these titans of tech.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: The clothing industry, one of the biggest polluters on the planet. It's an inconvenient truth for fashionistas. Ahead, though, a new way to eliminate toxic waste water from factories.


VAUSE: Well, the clothing market has been booming for decades. New collections released every month, and production has doubled between 2000 and 2015, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

That growth, though, comes at a cost to the world's waterways. CNN's Cyril Vanier shows us how one innovator is now tackling this issue.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's murky, has a horrible smell, and you'd want to stay as far away as possible. Toxic waste water results from the highly chemical dyeing and finishing process at textile factories, a problem that is fueled by the ever-growing demand for new clothes.

DIPAK MAHATO, FOUNDER, SEACHANGE TECHNOLOGIES: The industry is responsible for over 20 percent of global industrial water pollution. So the impact is tremendous.

VANIER: He is the man who found a new way to deal with the problem.


MAHATO: As a scientist, you know, I love figuring out how things work, and -- and I'm always coming up with ideas. But when I had this one, the potential to change things? That's really what keeps me and my team going.

VANIER: Even though traditional water treatment systems are able to clean contaminated water, they leave a byproduct: a thick toxic sludge which often ends up in landfills.

MAHATO: It's terrible. I've seen the sludge applied to land where it just creates dead zones.

VANIER: Mahato's idea is to not create any sludge in the first place.

The jet turbine sprays wastewater into fine mist and blows it through an air stream. The water parts evaporate, and the chemicals are left behind as dust.

The North Carolina innovator developed the first prototype in his basement in 2014. His company, called SeaChange, is in its early stages, but it has already been drawing attention. Sports textile giant Adidas has founded a prototype system at one of its supply chain factories in Taiwan.

MAHATO: It was so different in the scale of it: 3,000 to 5,000 tons of waste water generated at these sites every day.

VANIER: Taiwan is a long-established player on the global textile markets, producing around 70 percent of the world's sportswear. One industry insider believes innovators are helping to set Taiwan's textile manufacturing on a greener path.

MARTIN SU, SUSTAINABILITY CONSULTANT: A lot of the companies that you're seeing over there, we'll be talking about -- we are talking about are very old. So sometimes people who are from outside of the industry, they are bringing new ideas or technology to help to move the textile industry to a hopefully sustainable future.

VANIER: Mahato says the start-up hopes to get the first commercial installation commissioned this year.

Cyril Vanier, CNN.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM right after this.


VAUSE: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. Ahead this hour, Russia claims a Sputnik moment with an approved vaccine for COVID-19, they say, just two weeks away.

Crowded dance floors, no masks in sight. Long lines to get in. Partying like it's 2019 is about to come to an end, people.

And it could be a similar story for Major League Baseball.