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Russia Rushed Its COVID Vaccine; Trump Retweets Unvetted Information; Germany Ramps Up Action On Coronavirus; Muslim Pilgrims Critically Chosen; China Seeing COVID Cases Rise; Bolivians Resort to Dangerous Alternative; Five States Break Records for Most Deaths in One Day; Teacher's Warning About Socially Distanced Classes; Combative Hearing of Attorney General Against the Democrats; Australia Bushfire Killed More Animals Than Reported; Inventor Keeps Textile Waste Out of Our Water. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Russia is preparing for the world's first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine in two weeks, a live report from Moscow.

The U.S. president once again pushes for a disproven drug for coronavirus treatment as scientists push back.

And the annual Hajj in Mecca which usually attracts millions of Muslim pilgrims is now underway, and dramatically downsized.

Good to have you with us.

Well, the world could see the first coronavirus vaccine approved in less than two weeks in Russia. Officials there say they are working to approve the vaccine for public use by August 10th, or even earlier. Frontline healthcare workers would be the first vaccinated, but that would happen at the same time as phase three of human trials.

So, let's head straight to Moscow where CNN's Matthew Chance is standing by with the details. Good to see you, Matthew. So, phase three human trials haven't even been completed, so how is it even possible that Russia is ready to approve a vaccine in less than two weeks?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not only of those phase three trials not being completed, they haven't even started yet. They're not starting, I'm told, by Russian officials until early August, August the 3rd is the date for that. But just seven days later or within that seven days -- day-period Russian officials are telling us that they intend to have this vaccine approved and will start being -- it will start being kind of given to members of the Russian public, starting with frontline medical workers. Now, of course, one of the reasons that Russia has been able to sort

of get or reach this point so quickly, it's partly because the technology they are using, they say this is a platform that they've used to create this vaccine that they've used before very successfully against other diseases like Ebola. So, the technology is already there, but of, course it's the fact that they seem to have abandoned or bypassed all those conventions about human trials.

Remember, you know, before human trials officially began, the scientists here in Moscow that were developing this vaccine were injecting their selves with it, you know, as a sort of first point of entry.

Then, Russian soldiers who, we're told by the defense ministry where volunteers were used in the first round of human trials, and that has sort of unprecedented, really, to my knowledge, a parallel system of, you know, the third phase of human trials which are essential for assessing the safety and the effectiveness of the drug, taking place even as the drug is being given to members of the public as I say in the first instance, frontline medical workers.

Now, obviously, it is risky, but clearly, the -- and it raises all sorts of questions about the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine. But clearly, the Russian authorities believe the risk is worth taking given the acute coronavirus situation in this country.

Remember, Russia has, you know, more than 800,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the fourth highest number of coronavirus infections in the world, and they are doing whatever they can, including planning vast resources into getting this vaccine as quickly as possible. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. And of course, the world is very eager to get a vaccine, but as you mentioned, this has raise major safety concerns over a very rushed ever to approve a vaccine, and then there's the public trust issues here because if it doesn't work, how would you explain that to people when you then come up with the next vaccine option? What are Russian authorities saying about that?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, they're not saying anything about that, in short. And I think that, perhaps, they are not addressing that in any public way, but undoubtedly, they are considering it.

I mean, look, one of the -- one of the main reasons there's so much skepticism about this Russian vaccine is that, you know, unlike elsewhere in the world where you get results and then open them to public scrutiny, to peer review, as it's called, that just hasn't happened here.

The results of the test they've had so far have not been made public. Now I'm told by Russian officials that that is going to change very soon. In the first week, you know, days, in the first week of August, I'm told, the results from the human trials are going to be published, they are going to be open to peer review, and so there is going to be a great deal of scrutiny, both within Russia and internationally of what Russia says would be the first vaccine for COVID-19. CHURCH: All right. Our Matthew Chance joining us there from Moscow.

Many thanks.

Well, Russia is far from the only country, of course, racing towards a vaccine. And some other developers are already further along in trials.


And you can see in red dots here, indicating phase three in the U.S., Europe, and China on the map, and in the U.S., Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech began advanced trials for one of their candidates, the first four volunteers were injected on Monday.

The trials will eventually see 30,000 participants. And Moderna is already in phase three of human trials, but monkeys are also being studied. Researchers say those results indicate the drug slows the spread in the animals. Given the progress, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert is cautiously optimistic.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The proof of the pudding is you've got to do the trial. It's a large trial, 30,000 people are going to be in the trial. That will give us the answer, and yes, I am cautiously optimistic, that as we get into the late fall and early winter, we will have an answer and I believe it will be positive.


CHURCH: And meantime, at least five U.S. states reported single day records for coronavirus deaths on Tuesday. Overall, the U.S. saw more than 1,200 deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours. That's according to Johns Hopkins University.

And some of the hardest hit states are in the south and west. The good news is Dr. Anthony Fauci believes the surge may be peaking in those regions, but now other states in the central U.S. could see their outbreaks grow.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump is once again touting the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment. Almost every major study has found it ineffective for COVID-19 and potentially harmful.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I happen to think it's a -- it works in the early stages. I think frontline 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 absolutely had no problem. I felt no different, didn't feel good, bad or indifferent, and I tested, as you know, it didn't -- it didn't get me, and it's not going to hopefully hurt anybody. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The president's statements again, seem to be at odds with his own administration.


FAUCI: The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.


CHURCH: And the U.S. president abruptly ended his briefing Tuesday after CNN pressed him about his sharing of coronavirus misinformation on Twitter.

Kaitlan Collins has our report.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: At that briefing yesterday, we saw the president defend his retweet the prior evening of that woman saying that she's a doctor and claiming that masks do not work, and that there is a cure for COVID-19. Of course, something that health experts have rejected on both of those fronts.

And initially, in the briefing, the president defended it. He talked about her. He talked about how well respected she was as a doctor even though he didn't seem to know who she was or what her identity was.

But then later, when I pressed him on some of the claims she's made before, including in videos that she's posted online where she says things like doctors use alien DNA to make medicine and they are trying to get a vaccine to prevent you from becoming religious, things like that, then the president still defended sharing it, but said he did not know who the woman was that he was elevating to his 84 million followers. And when we pressed him for follow-ups, he turned and walked out of the briefing room.

Now that came after during that briefing where the president was talking about vaccines and therapeutics. He also claimed that much -- much of the country is coronavirus free even though health experts have been raising concerns about surges in several parts of the country, including really big states, Florida, Texas, and California, as well.

And during this briefing, as we were talking about who the president is taking advice from, he was asked about some retweets he had also made about Dr. Anthony Fauci, one that said that Dr. Fauci was a fraud, and had misled the public.

The president said he liked Dr. Fauci, but then questioned why Dr. Fauci is more popular than he is. Something that we had reported had bothered the president, that his approval rating was higher than President Trump, but something that was kind of surprising to see the president admit out loud from the briefing room.


TRUMP: For the most part, we've done pretty much what he and others, Dr. Birx and others who were terrific, recommended. And he's got this high approval rating. So, why don't I have a high approval rating?


COLLINS: So, the question is, you know, how does that change his relationship with Dr. Fauci going forward, if it all? And does he continue the sustained attacks that we've seen on the nation's top infectious diseases expert?

CHURCH: Well, drawing this pandemic, it is vital the public has the most accurate information available, especially when it comes to health risks.


And when it comes to drugs, like hydroxychloroquine, here's what the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration had to say.


MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: For people who are in public health like Dr. Fauci, we really need them to keep doing what they are doing, and communicating with the public about it.

We do have evidence now that, unfortunately, hydroxychloroquine has not shown effectiveness in good, well-designed studies where people, you know, randomize to get treatment or not. We are finding other treatments that do work, Remdesivir, maybe some of the monoclonal antibody treatments, other antibody treatments that are coming, and of course, vaccines are in process.

And thanks to Dr. Fauci, and a whole lot of other health professionals and experts, NIH, and FDA, and CDC, other parts of government, we are going to keep making progress on that.


CHURCH: And presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, is taking another swipe at President Trump's handling of the pandemic and race relations. Biden's campaign remarks, part of an ongoing strategy to show how vastly different he is from the president.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To change, to be over the last few days, as Trump has, it doesn't change the facts of the last four years. Donald Trump faces a real test, and he's failed it, the basic threshold of being president, the duty to care for the entire country, not just his reelection prospects.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: And during that event, Biden said he will choose a vice

presidential running mate next week. And a photo from the event is fueling speculation. Biden was seen holding handwritten notes with Senator Kamala Harris' name at the top, along with a set of talking points about her.

The Biden campaign declined to comment about the content of those notes.

Well, fears of a second wave are gripping Europe after successfully flattening the curve. Leaders are scrambling amid spikes throughout the continent. Germany has now followed the U.K.'s lead, advising against travel to Spain. Despite the clear emergence of new outbreaks, Spanish authorities want the U.K. and Germany to reconsider.

At the start of the pandemic, the British government was accused of acting too slowly. Boris Johnson defended the quick decision with Spain, and warned Europe could be on the verge of a dreaded second wave.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: These are decisions for the families, for individuals about where they want to go, and what we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again.

And let's be absolutely clear about what's happening in Europe and among some of our European friends, I'm afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.


CHURCH: Well, Germany has been praised around the world for how it's contained COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. But now German health officials say a recent spike in cases there is very disturbing. New cases had dropped to around 500 a day in recent weeks, but rose to 815 on Friday.


LOTHAR WIELER, DIRECTOR, ROBERT KOCH INSTITUTE (through translator): We don't know whether this is the beginning of a second wave, but it could be. It begins with a rise in numbers. I'm optimistic, and I believe that if we stay to these AHA rules, we can stop it from happening. So, again, I will say we can do this. It really depends on us.


CHURCH: And CNN's Frederik Pleitgen joins us now from Berlin. So, Fred, we heard they can do this. So how is Germany responding to this?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly one of the things that I think was very important, Rosemary, for the Germans was sounding the alarm bell very early on. One of the things that they actually said at that -- at that press conference that we were just listening to there, they said, look, the last thing that they want here in Germany is a situation like there currently is, for instance, in the United States.

In fact, name the United States as one of the various countries where the country believed that it had things under control. But then all of a sudden, cases started rising suddenly and all of a sudden it became more and more difficult to trace where the coronavirus was actually coming from and thus, bring it under control.

So essentially, what the German government, what the German Centers for Disease are saying is on the one hand they're saying look, people need to once again adhere to the measures that are in place. And by and large, when you go to cities like Berlin and other places in Germany as well, people are adhering to most of those measures, to physical distancing, to wearing a mask when they go inside public areas like, for instance, supermarkets but other areas as well. Sanitizing of course is also a big thing.

But the German government says that has become a bit more lax and that's where the cases are going up in certain case -- in certain places. And that is why they are calling on people to start doing these things again.


And then you mentioned the situation with travel. And that's one of the things that the Germans are really taking a hard look at. They've now issued saying that people who come from, what they call high-risk countries, which of course the U.S. is one of those countries, that those people need to take coronavirus tests starting next week when they come here into this country.

They believe testing people on arrival is more effective than putting people into quarantine. Obviously, it also allows this country to keep its economy somewhat open as well. But there is a big question out of so-called non high-risk countries like, for instance, the entire European Union.

And they are essentially what the government is doing is they are saying they want to make it as easy as possible for people to get tests. They want to make those free of charge. They want those tests to be easy to get so that there is that sort of barrier that some people might have when it comes to, do I want to get a test or not to take that barrier away.

What they are saying right now and what's really making them concerned about the situation, Rosemary, is they are saying that while the cases aren't that high yet, the highest that we've had is those 815 that you mentioned at the beginning, they believe it is going to a broader part of the country. And that could make it more difficult to contact trace. And contact tracing is really a key to Germany's concept to trying to keep the pandemic from really getting out of control. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. They are moving quickly as they did at the start, and that is the key.

Frederik Pleitgen bringing us up to date from berlin. Many thanks.

Well, the situation in Bolivia has become desperate as people seek out dangerous chemicals to fight the virus. Now fears of becoming infected are over running the need for safety.

And happening right now Saudi Arabia is welcoming a limited number of visitors to the Hajj this year. How the kingdom is adapting Islam's most holy pilgrimage for the COVID era. We'll have the details on that after the break.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Well, India has recently seen an uptick in coronavirus cases, and now the country has recorded more than one and a half million infections in total. Over six months, India had recorded a million cases. But it took only 12 days to cross another half million.

And China has reported more than 100 new cases of the coronavirus in a single day for the first time since April. The national health commission says nearly all of the new infections were locally transmitted.

And Kristie Lu Stout joins me now from Hong Kong with more on this. Good to see you, Kristie. So, talk to us about where the main hotspots are across China and what more you're learning about these new infections.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The hotspots are mainly Xinjiang as well as Dalian and one case reported in Beijing. We'll give you the breakdown in just a moment. There has been a significant jump in new COVID-19 infections in China as the country is battling this fresh wave of COVID-19 cases, especially in the western region of Xinjiang.


On Monday, China reported 68 new cases of COVID-19. On Tuesday, 101 new cases of the virus. This is the highest single day increase in the coronavirus in China since early April.

Now let's bring up that data from the national health commission that was out earlier today. According to the commission, China has 101 new cases, including 98 locally transmitted ones. Of these 98 domestic cases, 89 were reported in Xinjiang, 8 were in Liaoning, that's where the city of Dalian is located, and one in Beijing. So that's a total of 86,982 cases.

Now let's bring up the next slide and zero in on that region of Xinjiang because all of Xinjiang's 89 new cases are in the capital of Urumqi. Xinjiang now has a total of 322 confirmed cases, 320 are in the capital. And given the opaque nature of reporting in Xinjiang it's very

difficult to get concrete details, data and information out of there but this is what we know. We know that these cases are linked to what's been described as a gathering activity. Officials say that all of those infected have not traveled abroad this year and the cases are concentrated in the Tianshan district of the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi.

This is the core downtown area of the capital where you have a mixture of commercial sites, residential sites, as well cultural sites.

It has been a week now since officials in Urumqi declared this wartime state. Entire communities are under lockdown. People are banned from leaving their residential compounds. Subway and bus systems have been suspended for a week now. Widespread testing is still underway. Rosemary?

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

In hard hit Latin America, Colombia is extending some coronavirus restrictions after reporting its highest daily increase in new cases since the pandemic began. The mayor of Bogota tells CNN the virus has become impossible to eradicate.


CLAUDIA LOPEZ HERNANDEZ, MAYOR, BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (through translator): Countries like ours in Latin America, we must learn to mitigate the virus rather than suppress it. In our situation aiming to eradicate the virus is impossible.


CHURCH: Well, neighboring Brazil is by far the hardest hit in the region. On Tuesday, the country confirmed more than 40,000 new cases, pushing its total to nearly two and a half million. And Argentina has confirmed its highest daily death toll from the pandemic. Some hospitals are worried their ICU beds 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 Pozzebon has more.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: 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 are all human beings.


POZZEBON: The Bolivian government already reeling from a sharp spike in coronavirus 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 and unproven and potentially dangerous treatments to try and combat the deadly illness.

Residents like Donizo Flores (Ph) who admits to purchasing chlorine dioxide despite public health warnings about the toxic nature of the natural bleach like disinfectant used for water treatment plants.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (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.


POZZEBON: 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 hydroxychloroquine 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.


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



POZZEBON: And yet, some of its main proponents are local government officials in the hard-hit area of Cochabamba, religious leaders, as well as opposition lawmakers. The Bolivian Senate has adopted a measure to manufacture, market and supply and use of chlorine dioxide solution for the prevention and treatment of coronavirus. But the bill has to clear the deputy's chamber and survive a potential presidential veto, an outcome which is highly unlikely.

Despite the deadly warnings and no 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 Pozzebon, CNN.

CHURCH: Well, Islam's most important annual pilgrimage is underway but with only a fraction of the usual number of worshippers due to the pandemic. Saudi Arabia has put a new crowd control measures for the Hajj this year, including barring international visitors.

The kingdom has the highest number of known COVID-19 infections in the Arab world.

And CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins me now from Istanbul, Turkey to talk more about this. Good to see you, Jomana. So, despite the reduced number of worshippers, we're still talking about a large number of people getting together there. So, talk to us about the measures being put in place to ensure that they are safe and COVID free.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Rosemary, as you mentioned, Saudi Arabia does have the highest number of confirmed cases in the Arab world, more than a quarter of a million cases. And so, they weren't really going to take any chances here.

Initially, there were considerations to cancel the Hajj altogether, but instead they opted for this, you know, what looks like a symbolic Hajj really, significantly downsized. You know, if you look at previous years, you had more than two million people from around the globe who would come to Mecca for this Hajj pilgrimage.

Instead, this year, what Saudi officials are saying is that they've really restricted the numbers. About 1,000 people, they said, have been selected to take part. Seventy percent of them are foreigners who reside in Saudi Arabia. Thirty percent of them are Saudi nationals.

And you know, these people who have been selected, they've gone through a really rigorous selection process. They've had to go through medical checks, COVID testing, they shouldn't have any chronic illnesses. They are between the ages of 20 and 50. They've had to self-isolate before arriving in Mecca this weekend. And when they arrived, they were put up in hotels there. They've had to go into quarantine there for the past four days before they began the pilgrimage.

And at the end of this all, they are also going to go back into quarantine. And when it comes to the measures that they've put in place, really strict hygiene measures. Over the past few days, the Saudi authorities have been releasing pictures of hundreds of cleaners around the holy sites, around the Kaaba, the Grand Mosque, they are disinfecting those areas, sterilizing those areas.

We understand also that the pilgrims will be provided with their pilgrimage kits. They will not be bringing their rags, for example, with them. They will not be bringing pebbles that they use in rituals. So, it's a very, very strict Hajj this year, a symbolic one. But as you can imagine, Rosemary, so many Muslims around the world are

disappointed and heartbroken that they are not going to be able to take part in this pilgrimage that is a key part -- it's a key part of Islam, one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim who is financially capable, who is physically able must perform once in their lifetime.

So, you have people who saved up their entire lives to take part in this pilgrimage, but they won't be able to do that this year.

We've spoken to a number of pilgrims. These are foreigners who are in Saudi Arabia. Some of them just happened to be there trapped in Saudi because of the travel restrictions. They couldn't go back home. So, they are there. They applied for the Hajj. They were selected. They say they feel really blessed to be taking part.

And one of them telling us that, you know, they feel this huge responsibility this year that they are doing this on behalf of the entire Muslim world.

CHURCH: Jomana Karadsheh bringing us the very latest on the Hajj during a pandemic. It is quite the challenge. Many thanks to you.

We'll take a short break. Still to come, the very real challenge of making a classroom COVID proof. We will talk to a teacher trying to stay positive about the return to in-person learning.

Back in a moment.



CHURCH: After weeks of surge in coronavirus cases here in the United States, now comes the inevitable surge in deaths rates. Five U.S. States reported record fatalities on Tuesday. According to Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 claimed more than 1,100 lives in the U.S. on Tuesday, pushing the country closer to the 150,000 mark.

More now from CNN's Nick Watt.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The day Florida started to reopen, May 4th, there were 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 have to get the virus down. We have 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 tests results are still taking so long that they're basically worthless.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALERGY AND INFECTOUS DISEASE: We just can't afford yet again another surge. If you are trying to open up, please do it in a way that is 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.


WATT: The Governor just won't.

Many places, this, now also a major concern. Crowds of unmasked concert goers in Colorado, a drive-in Chainsmokers gig in Swanke 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 commonsense.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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, MLB COMMISIONER: A team losing a number of players that rendered it completely noncompetitive would 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, announce in an open letter, the regular season is still on, but every player and coach currently subject to daily tests. According to Goodell, this process has not been easy.

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 that 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 is why the number is so low. California, still really in the teeth of this.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: Well, the top infectious diseases expert in the U.S., Dr.

Anthony Fauci, admits that returning kids to school is quote, "part of the experiment of reopening." In a frank conversation with school administrators, Dr. Fauci said that the full impact of children returning to in-person learning isn't yet known, and there is no one size fits all approach for schools.

Well, for many teachers, returning to the classroom presents a huge logistical challenge. A fifth grade teacher in Colorado shared her emotional journey while trying to reorganize her classroom.


KATIE O'CONNOR, TEACHER: They are not three feet apart yet. So, we still have to figure out how to get these to be three feet apart. You can see that it's really close. Like this is -- they are really close. We are all just struggling because in what world is this an elementary school classroom? (Inaudible), we have to be walking around wearing our masks for eight hours. These are a bunch of 10 year olds.

They have to work individually. There is no group work. Honestly, we probably won't even be doing anything on paper because we can't pass it around. You can't collect it. Kids can't get out of their seats. This is not how I want to go back, and I want to go back so bad because I love teaching. I miss my classroom. I miss my kids.


CHURCH: And that video caught a huge amount of attention online, clearly striking a chord with parents and educators alike. Katie O'Connor has been posting regular updates as the school start date draws closer.


O'CONNOR: So here we go. Here are my desks, spaced out three feet apart. This is -- this seems so open. It's funny. You can see some are a little more. Some are a little less. This is my rough -- my rough draft because, obviously, over here, I had to add this side room (ph) and they are a little closer. They are not quite three feet. But like I said, these ones -- some rows are a little over three feet, so it varies.

This is so different than what we are all used to, and I think that's why we are all feeling a little anxious and a bit stressed or just a little worried, because this is so new. It's such a drastic change that happened so quickly.


CHURCH: Katie O'Connor is joining us now to talk more about what she is going through to open her classroom. Thank you so much for being with us.

O'CONNOR: Of course, thanks for having me. CHURCH: And Katie, you have been working very hard to get your

classroom ready for your fifth grade students and their imminent return to in-person learning. So I did want to ask you first how you are feeling right now about teaching in the middle of a pandemic while COVID 19 cases are still surging.

O'CONNOR: Yes. Right now, I think, I'm mostly just feeling anxious because there is just so much that we don't know yet. There is so much we don't know what's going to happen, what's it going to be like, we are making all new routines and procedures for our whole school, and it's just a little anxious feeling. There's a little anxiety brewing.

CHURCH: Understood. And as you get your classroom ready, we are looking at some pictures there from your classroom, you are very carefully socially distanced to all those desks, getting ready for in- person teaching. So, what else are you doing to prepare for your students coming back, and what will be the hardest part of all of this do you think?

O'CONNOR: I think the hardest part is going to be just having like 10-year-olds sitting in those desks so far away from each other and still making sure that they are making connections and that they still feel welcomed and loved and are not just in a sterilized space. I still want to feel like a classroom, and that's just hard to do right now.


CHURCH: And so clearly, all of the students will be wearing masks. You will be wearing a mask. Do you intend to wear a shield as well over your face, a transparent shield?

O'CONNOR: No, just a mask.

CHURCH: Right. And so what will happen if a few weeks into in-class, in-person learning, someone who gets infected. What's the plan?

O'CONNOR: I know that my district does have the kind of lay out right now of what to expect if that happens. I'm not sure what it is at the moment, but they say they are working on it so --

CHURCH: Right. And I did want to ask you this because medical experts suggest that if a $10 billion a year industry like Major League Baseball, with all the resources to constantly test and treat their players can't get this right, as we have seen, then how will schools be able to safely reopen without anywhere near the same resources? What would you say to that?

O'CONNOR: It's everyone's effort. It is all hands on deck. We have to make sure students are really making sure they are following the protocols. We are cleaning our classrooms multiple times a day, and we are just doing what we can, really. There is no clear answer for anything right now so --

CHURCH: And Katie, what are other teachers saying to you and parents? What are their sentiments as you prepare to open up? O'CONNOR: Everyone is just wishing us luck, honestly. There is a lot

of I wish you all the best in the school year. That is really all you can do. There's -- it is just so strange.

CHURCH: But many of the parents anxious or the other teachers?

O'CONNOR: Yes, definitely. We are all feeling very -- just worried and confused and everyone is just trying to make the best decision for them. Especially parents, they want to make the best decision for their child, and it's hard when we don't know all the details yet. We don't have it all laid out and a plan. So, it's really hard to make that decision when we -- there is so much we don't know.

CHURCH: Yes. That's it, you are learning as you go along here. So, will all of these students who were planning to come back to your classroom, will they all be in-person or did some of them opted for learning at home, for virtual learning? Has that been an option?

O'CONNOR: Yes. There is a virtual learning option for students who are staying home and there is still the in-class options. Teachers are still responsible for their e-learning students. So I kind of will have two classes going at once.

CHURCH: Wow. We wish you all of the very best. Katie O'Connor, I know you are very anxious going forward and we hope this goes smoothly for you and for your students. Thank you so much for talking with us.

O'CONNOR: Thank you.

CHURCH: And coming up, the U.S. Attorney General faced a grilling by Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill in a tense and combative hearing. What we learned from America's top law enforcement official. That's next.




CHURCH: A contentious hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday as U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr clashed with Democrats and pushed back on assertions that he has politicized the Justice Department to defend President Trump. Jessica Schneider has the details.



WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president has not attempted to interfere in these decisions.

SCHNEIDER: In the long-awaited showdown between the Attorney General and House Democrats, holding firm that he is not using his position to do the president's bidding. BARR: On the contrary, he has told me from the start that he expects me to exercise my independent judgement, to make whatever call I think is right, and that is precisely what I have done.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats today laid into him.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Shame on you, Mr. Barr.

SCHNEIDER: Accusing him of politicizing protests around the country by sending in federal agents, inappropriately stepping in to investigate the origins of the Russia probe and protecting the president's allies, like Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, but Barr pushed back.

BARR: You say I helped the president's friends. The cases that are cited, the Stone case and the Flynn case are both cases where I determined that some intervention was necessary to rectify the rule of law, to make sure people are treated the same. I agree, the president's friends don't deserve special breaks, but they also don't deserve to be treated more harshly than other people.

SCHNEIDER: Barr also repeatedly defended the presence of federal officers in Portland, Oregon.

BARR: We are trying to protect federal functions and federal buildings. If the state would come in and keep peace on the street in front of the courthouse, we wouldn't need additional people at the courthouse.

SCHNEIDER: But the committee chair brushed off Barr's explanations.

NADLER: The president wants footage for his campaign ads, and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered.

SCHNEIDER: Referencing the killing of George Floyd, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee confronted Barr about police brutality and she says that the DOJ has failed to adequately pursue federal cases against officers accused of police brutality.

BARR: Plus, I don't agree that there is systemic racism in the police department.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX), HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: That's what we need you to join us on Mr. Attorney General and to recognize an institutional racism does exist. And until we accept that, we will not finish our job and reach the goals and aspirations of our late iconic John Lewis.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans went on the attack, accusing Democrats of targeting the Attorney General because he has ordered a probe into the origins of the Russia investigation and because of the A.G.'s previous assertion the Trump campaign was spied on.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It sure is. And since that day, since that day, when you had the courage to state the truth, they attack you, they've been attacking you ever since.


CHURCH: So, let's discuss now with Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Good to have you with us.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: So, Elie, in his heated testimony, Attorney General Bill Barr rejected accusations from Democrats that he does the bidding of the president, tilting justice in his favor. How convincing was he?

HONIG: I found that very unconvincing for two reasons. Reason number one is Bill Barr's own track record -- it is one thing to get in front of a microphone today and declare that everything that you ever have done as Attorney General is not politically motivated and is good and pure and righteous. It's another thing to look back over the 18 months that Bill Barr has been in office and see all the times he has done Donald Trump's political bidding.

He distorted the findings of the Mueller report. He tried to keep the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, which ended up resulting in impeachment, from going to Congress. He intervened in cases involving Donald Trump's political allies, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn.

Beyond that, in one breath, Bill Barr says I am not political, yet he spent a good amount of time today really parroting Donald Trump's political talking points about the quote/unquote, "Russia gate hoax," about blaming the Obama administration for some of the failed response to coronavirus. These are straight-up political talking points that have no place in anything that an Attorney General should ever be doing.

CHURCH: Right. Do you think it is being political or he just happens to be on the same page as Donald Trump?

HONIG: I think it's political. It would take a remarkable coincidence. If everything that Bill Barr has done -- I mean, everything he has done during his tenure here has always come out in the same direction. It has always comes out exactly as Donald Trump would want it, exactly in Donald Trump's political favor.

And I will give you an example here. The two cases that William Barr has ever come down from his perch at the top of the Department of Justice to intervene in, and to undermine his own line prosecutors are Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, two of Donald Trump's political allies.


One of whom was convicted of lying in order to protect Donald Trump, Roger Stone. What are the odds that out of the over 60,000 cases the Justice Department handles every year, he decided to get involved directly in those two? I mean, that would be a remarkable coincidence.

CHURCH: You are right. And Bill Barr also defended the current actions of federal agents in Portland, Oregon and the use of force on peaceful protesters outside the White House in Lafayette Square in June to make way for the president's photo op at that church, holding up a bible. How did the Democrats respond to his efforts to justify these actions on legal grounds?

HONIG: Yes, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more pushback there. I think Barr managed to be sort of wishy-washy and soft play the issue. Here is what I wanted to see Bill Barr asked. First of all, are you OK with unmarked, unidentified federal agents interacting with the public?

Second, have you become aware of any instances where any federal agents used excessive force? And if so, will you investigate? And third, are you aware of any instances when any of the federal agents out there made an arrest without probable cause? That is the legal requirement to make an arrest. And again, if so, are you investigating and will you follow up? Because those are three very specific questions.

Barr spent a lot of time explaining the idea behind protecting federal property, which is not problematic at all. But the question is, are these federal agents protecting federal courthouses properly? Are they going beyond? Are they overstepping the boundaries of the law?

CHURCH: So, Elie, what happens now? I mean, what purpose did this serve?

HONIG: Yes. Really, the only purpose is accountability. But accountability is important and long overdue. Bill Barr has been in office 18 months. It has been over a year since he has testified in any Congress, either House. And he has never, until today, testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee, which is the primary committee charged with oversight.

So, look, he -- part of his job obligation here to the American public is to get up and answer questions. And I don't think he fared particularly well, but the American people have a right to see that and make their own judgments.

CHURCH: Elie Honig, thank you so much for your legal analysis. We appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It has been called one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history. A new study finds nearly 3 billion animals were killed or displaced by Australia's recent bush fires. Some now face the threat of extinction. And the crisis is renewing calls for urgent action on climate change.

Our CNN's Simon Cullen reports.


SIMON CULLEN, CNN PRODUCER: 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.


CHURCH: Heartbreaking scenes there from Australia. We will be right back.




CHURCH: The market for clothing has been booming for decades with new collections released every month. Clothing production basically doubled between 2000 and 2015 according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. But that growth comes at a cost to the world's waterways.

Cyril Vanier shows us how one innovator is tackling the issue.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN SHOW HOST: It is murky, has a horrible smell, and you do 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 I am 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 have seen sludge applied to land where it just creates dead zones.

VANIER: Mahato's idea is to not create any sludge in the first place. A jet turbine sprays wastewater into a 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 funded a prototype system at one of its supply chain factories in Taiwan.

MAHATO: It was so different and 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 market. Producing around 70 percent of the world sportswear.

One industry insider believes innovators are helping to set Taiwan's textile manufacturing on a greener path.

MARTIN SU, SUSTAINABILITY CONSULTANT: All of the companies that you have singled their rules would be talking about, we are talking about a very whole, but sometimes people who are outside of the industry, they are bringing new idea or technology to help to move the textile industry to an appropriate sustainable future.

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

Cyril Vanier, CNN.


CHURCH: And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I will be right back with more news from all around the world in just a moment. Stay with us.