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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

U.S. Deaths Top 150,000; Experts: U.S. Needs to Reset Response; Trump Visits Coronavirus Hotspot to Discuss Energy and Attend a Fundraiser Even as U.S. Deaths Top 150,000; GOP Rep. Gohmert Claims He Caught Virus from Wearing Mask; California & Florida Report Record Single-Day Deaths; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) Michigan Discusses About Her Concern on the Increase in Cases in Michigan. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the U.S. Coronavirus death toll topping 150,000 tonight. Top experts warned the country must completely reset as the President spends his day fundraising, visiting an oil rig in Texas.

Plus, Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert test positive for coronavirus. He is now claiming he got it by wearing a mask. Does that explanation add up?

In all of the President's doctors why President Trump always seems to embrace the most dubious characters in medicine. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, more than 150,000 Americans have now died from coronavirus. That number of about 50 percent from just two months ago. That number the President once casually claimed the United States would never, never hit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And look, we're going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That was May 3rd. Well, the President was wrong and to put this terrible and avoidable number into perspective, 150,000 dead Americans is equivalent to the death toll on 9/11, 50 times over. And a new study just out tonight from Johns Hopkins University warns unlike many countries in the world, I'm quoting here, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic, it is time to reset.

Another key medical group warning the United States must get the pandemic under control or deaths could well go into the multiple hundreds of thousands. And the President's response today, well, he traveled to Texas not to address the state's 9,000 reported cases today, but to raise money for his election and to tout energy independence.

And you can see, there he is, not wearing a mask. Governor of Texas, of course, was. Almost everyone else on the tarmac, in fact, was wearing one but he doesn't wear one. Setting an example simply doesn't matter to him. He went into a fundraising lunch, tickets there went for up to $100,000 each and he attended an event at an oil rig.

So let me just show you some video from the President's day today in Texas. This is how he marked a day with the death toll once unimaginable was standing room only in Midland, Texas. The crowd waiting for the President. You can see them. Take a look. It's 2020, guys. It's the summer of 2020.

You might not know that if you look at this picture. There's no masks. There's no social distancing. People not wearing masks or social distancing, because why? I don't know. Is it political? Do they think it's not cool? Do they think they don't look tough? Do they think it's weak? They want to get coronavirus or give coronavirus. I don't know.

It is clear though that they did not worry about infecting each other at all. The only person who got somewhat of a mask treatment was the President. When he spoke some in the back of the room did put their masks on, but many in the front of the room, in front of the barricades, the VIPs, the former U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, they did not. They did not set by an example.

Also in the room and not wearing a mask, the President's former doctor at the White House, Dr. Ronny Jackson. He is a medical doctor. He is now a congressional candidate standing there, no mask on a day when his state reports a death toll of over 6,000 total deaths.

Now, there was a notable absence in the President's trip to Texas today, his close ally, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert. He was supposed to be there. He was supposed to travel with the President. Shortly before takeoff, guess what? He tested positive for coronavirus. Gohmert often refuses to wear a mask and we've seen that many times.

Jeremy Diamond begins our coverage OUTFRONT live in Washington. Jeremy, any reaction from the White House on Gohmert's positive test?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, there's no reaction from the President so far. But we did hear from the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows while he was on Capitol Hill earlier today and he said that he believes Congressman Gohmert's positive tests should be a sign that Congress should step up its testing.

The White House has offered to provide additional testing capacity to Capitol Hill so they can test members of Congress and senators. But beyond that what this really is also about, Erin, is this double standard that we have seen from the President when it comes to testing. We have heard him time and again talk about the fact that additional testing creates additional cases, talk about the fact that he would like to slow down testing in the United States, when in fact, he has benefited from, perhaps, the most robust testing system for coronavirus anywhere in the country. And that is a testing system that today prevented the President from

being in close contact with not one but two Republicans who had coronavirus and that's not just Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, but also a Republican congressional candidate for Texas' seventh district who is set to meet the President at the airport in Texas today.

And so very clearly, the President is benefiting from the system. But, of course, this is also a story about the politicization of masks, something that the press has of course repeatedly participated in.

[19:05:03]

Louie Gohmert has been one of those Republicans who has taken the President's lead and gone further with it in terms of politicizing masks and being reluctant to wear one. But, of course, the President has recently begun to inch away from that very slowly. Louie Gohmert, though, he is not learning his lesson, instead he is trying to blame masks now for actually getting coronavirus. Of course, there is no evidence to back that up at all, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeremy, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at George Washington University Hospital, who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush and Dr. William Schaffner, former CDC official and now Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner, let me start with you. I want to show again the video from the President's events today and no masks, no social distancing for a lot of people, which is deeply troubling. And former Energy Secretary Rick Perry presumably coming in contact with the President would have been tested, but no example are being set. The VIPs, no one wearing them at all.

And the Trump, his former doctor, turn congressional candidate Ronny Jackson, no mask. What goes through your mind when you see this Dr. Schaffner?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIVISION, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: The three Ds, depressing, distressing and, as we say in our family, D-U-M, dumb, that's just inappropriate. It shows exactly the opposite of what all of those people ought to be modeling to people across the country. We should be wearing our masks all of us all of the time.

We're not going to get this virus under control until we all do that and, I mean, all of us, from the top to the bottom, from Maine to Southern California, all across the country. We really have to do that six foot distancing. Why are they there in that large group?

BURNETT: Yes.

SCHAFFNER: They shouldn't be gathering in groups.

BURNETT: It doesn't make sense and it just lends itself and all of these people are pretty bright people. I just don't understand it. It is nonsensical.

And Dr. Reiner, comes on the day that we passed 150,000 people dead in this country from coronavirus. As I said, 50 9/11s. You would think that people would notice. A new report from Johns Hopkins says the United States has to completely reset at the federal level as well as others to get control of the pandemic. But yet you saw what the President did, he goes again to a state in the midst of this, which he's done before, with Oklahoma, and Florida and Arizona and he goes to Texas and he's fundraising. What's his strategy?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I was just about to say that the President doesn't have a strategy. There is no strategy here. Think of it this way, if the United States were attacked by a foreign enemy and the administration said to the states governors, look, you're on your own, call out the National Guard if you want, but the responsibility to defend your states is going to the state. We're out of this.

That's exactly what the federal government has done to the effort to defeat the coronavirus. They've shunted to the state's responsibility for testing. We have no national testing strategy. We originally had a strategy to open states carefully and safely. They shunted that back out to the States and test. They encouraged them to hurry up.

There is no national defense against this enemy and we are very much at war with this enemy. And we have no national strategy, so we have no commander in chief. There's no commander in chief.

BURNETT: And on this issue, the point you raised about testing Dr. Reiner, so the President says enough with the testing because it gets more cases. Well, he's the one benefiting because he's the one who is with serious underlying conditions and age at great risk and he was not around his National Security Advisor, Congressman Louie Gohmert who's been vocally against mask wearing was supposed to be with the President today, he got tested, so they took him away. They caught his case.

Wesley Hunt, Jeremy Diamond mentioned him, that Republican running for Congress in Texas. He was supposed to meet with Trump, tested positive, gets taken away. And as I mentioned, the National Security Advisor. So is the White House though playing with fire? You have all of these people who, and I'm not saying all of those individuals but certainly Mr. Gohmert, distain mask wearing and social distancing and the only thing between them and the President is a test.

REINER: Well, so these are two different things, mask wearing prevents the virus from spreading. Testing helps you identify who's already been infected. Look, the White House is using an effective strategy to protect the President which is testing everybody. Well, that's the strategy that every public health expert in the United States has advocated for the country. Let's test everybody. Let's test 30 million people a week. Let's test everyone going to work.

[19:10:06]

Let's test them with both the kinds of systems we have available now. Let's test them with cheaper, a very rapidly accessible antigen test. Let's test a massive number of people and do exactly what the White House is doing. Somebody comes to work who's positive they go home. Let's do that.

BURNETT: So Dr. Schaffner, Congressman Gohmert yesterday walking right next to the Attorney General Bill Barr who is obviously older and heavier and there he is, no mask, and Gohmert has a coronavirus. Here he is talking to a federal congressman both have their masks down at some point. This is obviously before Gohmert got tested. And you had members of Congress still not wearing masks on the House floor today even after this.

And Speaker Pelosi now says it's going to be mandatory, but you've got Gohmert, some of his colleagues, they haven't been doing it, they haven't been doing it repeatedly, we see these hearings, right, and now there's an increasingly partisan divide not fully. I don't want to say all Republicans won't, but that's who isn't, not wearing mask. I mean, how reckless is it, Dr. Schaffner, at this point? If you would say to them, you've been elected to represent the American people, you're refusing to wear a mask, how reckless are they?

SCHAFFNER: Well, Erin, I think it is both reckless and foolish and, obviously, once again, it's not modeling really appropriate behavior. And as we have learned from time to time, if things can't be persuade, if persons can't be persuaded by good education and good facts, then we have to mandate it. And so Speaker Pelosi is saying, all right, the floor of the house is going to be a solid mask floor. You can't go on if you don't wear a mask and I think we're going to have to do that across the country.

In my own state, there are parts of the state where people are not just indifferent to masks, they're hostile against them. We're going to have to get everybody on the same page here, working together not only to protect themselves, but this is a communicable infection, highly, highly contagious. We have to protect those around us also.

BURNETT: All right. thank you both very much. I appreciate your time.

And next, Congressman Louie Gohmert has tested positive and he blames his mask, right, blames his mask.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): I'm bound to put some virus on mask that I sucked in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Rarely does he wear one, but we're going to give you the facts about that. That allegation with our expert biologist.

Plus, deaths rising in 29 states tonight, Florida and California reporting record deaths today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Like whack a mole with

hotspots all over this country is just going to keep popping up if we don't do something nationally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And why is the President so openly impressed by doctors who have at best questionable views.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:39]

BURNETT: Tonight, Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas positive for coronavirus getting a not on Air Force One because it was found out just before he was to be with the President. He says he may have gotten it by wearing a mask.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOHMERT: I can't help but think that if I haven't been wearing a mask so much in the last 10 days or so, really wonder if I would have gotten it, but I know moving the mask round, getting it just right, I'm bound to put some virus on the mask that I sucked in, that's most likely what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Professor Erin Bromage. He teaches biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and is a CNN Contributor. And I'm glad to have you with me tonight, Professor. So Gohmert repeatedly floating this idea that he who, of course, seen in public many times very rarely wears masks to begin with, that he actually contracted the virus by wearing one. How likely is that?

ERIN BROMAGE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, thanks for having me on tonight, Erin. I have to admit that's one of the silliest, the dumbest things I've heard all week. That's not the way that it works. If anything, his mask saved him from getting a higher dose of the virus, if that's truly what actually happened.

BURNETT: Wow. It's just pretty incredible that he would even put something like that out there. I mean, we do, to my point, he doesn't like to wear a mask anyway and he's been saying they don't work. So he didn't wear a mask around other people. Yesterday he was with the Attorney General Bill Barr. He was not wearing a mask. He was not wearing a mask when he was talking to Congressman Doug Collins before yesterday's hearing in the Judicial Committee. You can see pulled his - and then Collins then pulled his mask down to talk to Gohmert as well, so there's that.

When he does have a face covering like in yesterday's hearing with Barr, although he's not wearing it at the moment we're showing here. He wears a bandana, usually not over his mouth or his nose. So when our reporter Manu Raju asked him why he wasn't wearing a mask on the House floor last month, he said, and I want to quote the congressman to you professor, "I don't have the coronavirus, turns out as of yesterday, I've never had it. But if I get it, you'll never see me without a mask." OK, what's wrong with that logic?

BROMAGE: I mean, in order for him to get the coronavirus, he has been around people. He's been having the interactions that we've been saying for six months that we cannot have especially in indoor environments. He has gone for the last four months without a mask as he's walked around Capitol Hill around his fully staffed office, having the interactions to show Americans how to reopen safely.

Well, that experiment has really played out and it's quite obvious now, you cannot have a fully staffed office and expect not to get infected by coronavirus inside that space.

BURNETT: So you mentioned his staff, I'm sorry, I have to jump in here, Professor, but one member of his staff told Politico that the Congressman, Congressman Gohmert, would berate them for wearing masks. He wanted every member of his staff in the office to show what reopening look like so he said they all had to come in and he would berate them for wearing a mask.

[19:20:00]

So I guess first of all how far could the spread be, but also what's your feelings about somebody who would say that and do that?

BROMAGE: Yes. So unlike you and I, Congress has access to rapid testing and they can be screened very readily for these things. And there is a chance that we've caught the infection really early and he hasn't had a chance to spread it to others.

But he obviously caught it either in his private life or in his life at work. And so really what we have to worry if he's had people in his office and, again, a fully staffed office, and they're having interactions and he caught it from one of them. That means the rest of his staff has also been exposed.

Now, if we've caught it late on him and he's actually infectious and able to infect others, then he's the one that will have spread it to his stuff. So he's actually being part of the problem, part of the transmission chain and this argument about not wearing masks and only wearing it when you're infected, you don't know and he would not have known he was infected if he didn't have access to the resources that they've put in place to Congress.

BURNETT: Professor, I really appreciate your time. I thank you very much and I just want our viewers to know the CDC Director today said we don't have to wait for a vaccine. We have the most powerful weapon in our hands right now, it is a simple flimsy mask. This virus can be defeated if people just wear a mask. That is what you need to know and not to listen to people who are saying complete and utter BS about the topic.

OUTFRONT next, the Justice Department says it's sending federal officers to Detroit to crack down on the violence there. Michigan's Governor is going to respond. Plus, back to school. Is it worth the risk? One district in Georgia

about to open its schools to students on Friday and I'm going to speak to one family who says despite the risks, they worry more about keeping their kids at home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:25:48]

BURNETT: Tonight, Florida and California breaking a grim record, both states with a record number of deaths in a single day, 197 in Florida, I'm sorry, in California and 216 in Florida. Erica Hill is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Masks, social distancing, good hygiene, the tools are there, but the virus just keeps spreading.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIDSON: Like whack a mole with hotspots all over this country, it's just going to keep popping up if we don't do something nationally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): That lack of a national plan could result in hundreds of thousands of additional deaths according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which released a roadmap today for a coordinated response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROSS MCKINNEY JR., CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER, THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN MEDICAL COLLEGES: Having common standards sort of sets expectations, provides some consistency so that we don't get these continuous waves of infection that have followed our premature reopening so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): While the President is urging governors to reopen his own administration is warning the 21 states in red on this map, they may need stronger restrictions. The yellow states also being watched closely. Dr. Deborah Birx noting young adults are fueling the spread in those areas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Remember the majority of those are asymptomatic, so if you expect to see hospitalizations, by the time you see hospitalizations your community spread is so widespread that you've flipped into a red state incredibly quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL(voice over): Indiana, one of those yellow states closing beaches

in Gary (ph) today for at least two weeks as cases continue to rise. Indoor gatherings also causing concern across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D) NEW JERSEY: We simply cannot continue to have crowded house parties. They are not safe, period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): Deaths are rising in 29 states, California and North Carolina posting new daily highs on Wednesday. Florida reporting record numbers for the second day in a row. The Governor focusing on the new school year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: I would absolutely have my kids in school because I do think that it's safe to do so. I believe that this is something that's very low risk for kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL(voice over): The governor also noting his kids aren't yet old enough for school. Meantime, a new study finds statewide school closures last spring helped to reduce the number of infections and deaths, as Dr. Anthony Fauci offers this blunt warning to teachers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So in many respects, unfortunately, though this may sound a little scary and harsh, I don't mean it to be that way, is that you're going to be actually part of the experiment of the learning curve of what we need to know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Well, part of that learning curve, Erin, of course also includes how the virus impacts children, how they can spread it. We know they can be asymptomatic spreaders, even if their symptoms may be less severe than many adults. But here's a statistic that really stood out from the state of Michigan where they're seeing a significant rise in cases among those 19 and younger, that zero to 19-year-old age group cases have increased nearly 80 percent, Erin, in just the last three weeks.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Just as we've seen that age group, look, we're seeing it across the country, they're back out. And I appreciate your time very much, Erica.

So Erica brings up Michigan. I want to go now to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of the State of Michigan. And Governor, I appreciate your time. It's good to have you back. So Erica just mentioned that huge increase 80 percent, just the past few weeks, among kids, people aged zero to 19 and that's the second highest case increase, I believe, you've had this month only behind 20 to 29-year-olds, but these numbers are obviously on an increased basis, very significant. So how concerning is it for you?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D) MICHIGAN: It's very concerning. I mean, our hope is to get kids back in the classroom this fall or actually they are going to determine whether or not that's feasible. And we know that we've got to put the safety and health of our kids and our education workforce and all of their families at the center of any decision we make as a state. But also we need that to be on the national level as well.

The problem that we've had throughout this whole experience with COVID-19 is a lack of federal leadership when it comes to a national strategy and national messaging campaign, a national embracing of consistent and accurate information.

[19:30:02]

This is a disease that doesn't stop at state line. It doesn't stop at party line. We've got to get this right.

And the enemy is a virus, and the only way it travels is through human contact. And that's why every one of us has to take this seriously.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So, you know, you have two daughters in those age groups. So, you know, you are dealing with it as a parent, you're going through what I'm going through, what tens of millions of parents are going through, which is figuring out school. And I'm sure -- you know, you're just as afraid as I am and many people watching about what's going to happen to their kids. And are their kids going to fall behind? And what's this mean for them?

And, you know, you just mentioned, you've got a back to school plan where your state, you know, every region is in a phase where they can do in-person learning if they choose to. So, when you look at these increases in these age groups, does that threaten that right now?

WHITMER: Absolutely, because if we see this increase continue, we're going to have to move back a bit. And that means we will have to do distance learning.

You know, Erin, I talked to a teacher the other day, Portage, Michigan, and she is terrified because she is in a classroom at a young age of students that may not be able to tolerate masks. She's worried about being exposed to potentially, you know, COVID-19 and bringing it home to the parents she cares for, a father who's got congenital heart disease, and she's got three kids in school as well.

I mean, this is not just about the kids in class, but, of course, that is our paramount concern. It is about their families as well and their teachers and their bus drivers and everyone who's a part of making schools work. And so, we've got to get this right. Keeping kids out of school is not a good option. But if the alternative is putting them and perpetuating the spread of COVID-19, there's really no choice to be had.

BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about another issue at the heart of your state, the Justice Department today saying they're sending federal agents to Detroit to tackle violent crime. Thirty-three percent increase, 31 percent increase in homicides, 53 percent increase in shootings in Detroit, according to the Justice Department.

The Democratic mayor of Detroit, the police chief say they welcome the help to stop gun violence -- obviously, you know, a significant thing for them to say. Do you agree?

Where you stand on this?

WHITMER: So, I think what the mayor and chief have said and I concur with this, is that we have not seen violence coming out of protests around, you know, policing. We've not seen that. We've seen righteous protests in the name of George Floyd and so many others who have that same horrible, horrifying outcome after, you know, a confrontation with police.

What we are worried about, of course, is that the federal government is going to come in and do what they did in Portland. That is not acceptable. That is not necessary. We have seen peaceful protests in Detroit.

So, so long as the representations from the feds are they're going to come in and supplement local police forcing in combating crime, that's fine. But if it's something different than that, that's not going to be OK.

BURNETT: OK. So, when you mentioned Portland and Seattle, you know, obviously, you've had these forces going in there. They did not come in when you were, people were threatening you with death and lynching and horrific things.

Yesterday, this came up at the House Judiciary hearing. Representative Pramila Jayapal pressed the attorney, Bill Barr, on the protesters in the state capital, right? This is -- they were saying this, doing this, and threatening you and trying to bang on the capital with guns. They were mad at your stay-at-home orders at the beginning of coronavirus.

Let me just play the exchange for you, Governor Whitmer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Are you aware these protesters called for the governor to be lynched, shot and beheaded?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: No.

JAYAPAL: Major protests in Michigan, you're the attorney general, and you didn't know that the protesters called for the governor to be lynched, shot and beheaded. So, obviously, you couldn't be concerned about that.

BARR: Well, there are a lot of protests around the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, he said he had no idea. Do you believe him?

WHITMER: I don't, and, you know, kudos to representative. She did a phenomenal job as did so many other Congress people. I think that the American people deserves answers and that includes even governors who could have used a little support from our federal government when we're trying to save lives here and people are threatening to take ours.

BURNETT: Governor, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

WHITMER: Thank you.

BURNETT: Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

And next, one family about to send their children back to school this week. They just toured the classroom. They're going to send them back, but they have serious concerns. And they're going to tell you exactly what they saw and why.

And why does President Trump trust doctors who are spouting things that are not true like this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. STELLA IMMANUEL, PEDIATRICIAN AND PREACHER: Right now, they use all kinds of DNA, even alien DNA to treat people, mixing human beings with demons. Nephilims exist these days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:38:50]

BURNETT: Tonight, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos arguing against the need for a national plan on reopening American schools.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: You know, there's not a national superintendent, nor should there be. Therefore, there's not a national plan for reopening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: One of the first school districts will reopen this Friday, and it is in Jefferson, Georgia. It is a small city. It's about an hour northeast of Atlanta. You can see on the map there.

It comes as hospitalizations in Georgia rise. Right now, ICU beds in that state are at 88 percent.

OUTFRONT now, Amber and Zack Davies. They have two sons who go to schools in this district.

And I appreciate you both so much taking the time as a parent of two kids myself, getting ready to do this, and you guys are doing it very soon.

So, amber, why do you think it's important for your sons to be back in class? I know this wasn't an easy decision, but you're going back. How come?

AMBER DAVIES, SENDING KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL, DISTRICT OPENS FRIDAY: Well, to start, we're not able to go back on Friday because our oldest son, he has coronavirus right now and I'm presumed positive. So, my husband and I are in different rooms of the house right now because we are quarantined. So, they're going to have a late start, but they are going to go back once we're cleared medically.

[19:40:04]

But we love this town. We love the people in this town. We love the teachers in the community.

But we just really feel like they have not had a very good solid plan for reopening. We're concerned. It was so easy for our son to contract coronavirus even though he was doing all the right things, all the precautions.

Our family was doing all the precautions, no vacations or anything, wearing masks. And he just contracted it so easily and brought it to me and I'm considered high risk because of lupus. So, just watching how easily he contracted it, it concerns me because when these kids go back to school, it's just going to be a big issue.

But our kids are going back, to answer your question, because they don't really have another option. We were told initially that there was no virtual option, that everybody would be in class, and that if we wanted -- we needed to contact the special education department. And I didn't want to put my kids in special education.

And then recently, it's come to light that there is a third party not through Jefferson City where you can put your children into, I guess it's a home school, and then eventually they would rejoin with their Jefferson classmates. But I just feel like they wouldn't be on the same playing field, and they would miss their friends, their teachers. They would miss that.

BURNETT: Oh, gosh, Amber, I hope you're OK, because I know you talk about being higher risk, and you mentioned your older son. I know he's 14 and he tested positive for coronavirus after summer camp.

So, Zack, Amber's talking about the camp took all the precautions and you all were taking precautions, right? You were wearing masks. The cabins are sanitized at the camps. Temperatures were taken, right?

You were told that these things are in place to protect them but there was still an outbreak. What do you take from this that you did everything right and yet now here you are? ZACK DAVIES, SENDING KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL, DISTRICT OPENS FRIDAY: It's

scary because, I mean, like you said, the camp, they've gone and done all the precautions they can and now we're just about to shuttle all of our kids back to school. And they say, you know, you can -- you can wear masks. We're not going to make it mandatory. We recommend it.

But kids are going to be kids. Kids are going to be -- my 8-year-old, he's going to be on the playground playing tag and running around and sneezing and coughing, you know? I mean, kids are going to be kids. And my biggest concern is he catches something and brings it back to my wife.

I feel our children are going to be fine. They'll bounce back. But somebody with lupus and -- it's a tougher fight for her.

I mean, a common cold for me and you, we're down maybe two days. Something like that for her, we're looking at weeks. And it's just scary.

And I mean, if you look at the NBA, they're playing in a bubble right now. NFL players have people opting out of contracts because they feel it's unsafe. I feel like our kids don't really have the option to opt out because then they'll be either a, left behind -- I just wish there was a more firm plan implemented.

BURNETT: I mean, it's pretty incredible they aren't. Amber, I know you went to an open house for your third grader and you're concerned about the classrooms and how they're set up. What did you see that made you worry?

AMBER DAVIES: Well, first of all, it was -- I think it's just ridiculous. As much as I love this town and the people, this is a very loving town and we love kids. And we're divided. Some people are ready to send their kids back and others stand with me on our side where it's just too soon and we need more options.

But when I went back, first of all I thought it was crazy because they did it in small groups. So, we met in the cafeteria. There was not very many parents there, maybe 20 or 25 if I had to guess. We were all socially distanced in the cafeteria with our masks on. Then they walked us around and we went to the classrooms and the desks are just kind of -- I guess they call it socially distanced but they are like boom, boom, boom.

So, I was like oh, my gosh, this is so unsettling. Some of the classrooms are round tables so you've got children across from each other and next to each other. And there's just no way to socially distance that.

And so, I asked the principal at the open house, I approached him very lovingly because we come from a place of love. We don't want to take our kids out of school or anything. But we just -- I went to the principal and just said, what is your plan for the school buses? How can you social distance on a school bus when you have three to four children per seat?

And he said, we're doing the best that we can. And I guess he did not want to discuss it, so I just went about my way.

But I think it's so important that the parents socially distance when in a few days we're going to open the flood gates wide open and there's no way to trace.

[19:45:06]

Once the kids go from one class to the next class to the next class, they cannot do the tracing. We've already experienced tracing because Elijah is positive and they're presuming me to be positive. So, the health department has called and we've had to be very transparent with who we've been in contact with.

And I just don't see how the high school, the middle school or for the little ones, how -- how are we going to trace because when you go home you don't know if the kid has asthma, what their parents are dealing with.

BURNETT: And I know, obviously, I hope -- I hope Elijah is healthy and he's able to go back as I know obviously he can't go back right when they're starting. But this is one of the first districts to start.

And I hope, Amber, that you stay well. I know everyone watching hopes you stay well.

Zack, thanks very much for your time as well.

Both of you thank you, and good luck.

AMBER DAVIES: Thank you. Thank you for having us on.

BURNETT: And next, why is President Trump wasting his time touting doctors who say this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Doesn't make people feel better. So, we scientists know that the masks are really quite foolish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: No, scientists don't know that.

And there's a renewed push tonight to restore a key part of Voting Rights Act in the wake of Congressman John Lewis' death. Will it happen?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:50:20]

BURNETT: Tonight, Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissing the false claims about hydroxychloroquine and wearing masks made my doctors promoted by President Trump. Doctors that Trump said he was, quote, very impressed by.

Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: As president of the United States, Donald Trump has direct access to some of the most talented and respected medical minds anywhere in the world. But instead of relying on the experts, many from his own administration, the president is spreading bogus claims from doctors like this.

DR. STELLA IMMANUEL, PEDIATRICIAN: Right now, they use all kinds of DNA, even alien DNA to treat people, mixing human beings with demons. Nephilims exist these days.

NOBLES: Dr. Stella Immanuel much like Trump is passionate about hydroxychloroquine, a drug studies have shown not to be effective in treating coronavirus. She's also said some gynecology problems are the result of sex with demons and witches.

Still, Trump has stood by her coronavirus claims.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was very impressed with her and other doctors that stood with her. I think she made sense.

NOBLES: She's not the only doctor whose questionable views are regularly retweeted and amplified by the president. A collection of these pro-Trump doctors met with Vice President Mike Pence just yesterday, among them was Dr. Simone Gold, who has downplayed the importance of wearing masks.

DR. SIMONE GOLD: Does it make people feel better? So, we scientists know that the masks are really quite foolish.

NOBLES: Meanwhile, Trump regularly works to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci.

TRUMP: Dr. Fauci at the beginning said, this will pass, don't worry about it. This will pass. He was wrong.

Dr. Fauci said, don't ban China, don't ban China. I did. He then admitted I was right.

NOBLES: Trump's desire to find physicians who consistently praise him or tell him he is right is a pattern. During his campaign for president, he went to his longtime doctor who signed off on a letter that doctors said Trump discontinued himself with a glowing recommendation of his cell.

Today, the president appeared with former White House Physician Ronny Jackson who is now a candidate for Congress, and went out of his way to tout the president's anima after his physical in 2018.

DR. RONNY JACKSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: If he lives 200 years old, I don't know.

NOBLES: Jackson, who's now no both politician and physician has said that wearing a mask should be a personal choice. Even though the science is clear, it can slow down the spread of the virus. And the president's desire to lean into basis opinions from doctors has real world consequences. His insistence to promote hydroxychloroquine has left some of his supporters with a false impression.

(on camera): Even if you've got it, you are not worried about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No and even if I did get sick from it -- I mean, there's so many positive studies with the hydroxychloroquine, and zinc.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: The president's campaign fully supports his approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, a few weeks ago, they went in search of doctors that would back him up and his claims as to how they treat the virus, and, Erin, in less than an hour from now, one of those doctors will appear in a campaign's nightly livestream -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Ryan.

And, next, new details about Congressman John Lewis' funeral, and the important role that former President Obama will play.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:56:37]

BURNETT: Live pictures from Georgia where the late Congressman John Lewis is being honored. This amid a new push to restore a key part of the historic Voting Rights Act in the wake of his death. Abby Philip is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the work of his life, and now it may be his final call to action.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I gave him the blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the right to vote.

PHILLIP: The death of civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis is jump-starting a new push to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a key part of which was largely invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The court invalidated a key section of the act which require these states and counties with histories of discrimination to seek permission from the federal government to make elections changes like eliminating or moving polling places.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: I think that we ought to dedicate this election year to John Lewis.

PHILLIP: This year, the stakes are higher than ever, Democrats and civil rights activists say. KRISTEN CLARKE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL

RIGHTS UNDER LAW: We started 2020 seeing intense levels of voter suppression and voting discrimination and that picture has been compounded by the pandemic.

PHILLIP: Across the country, Republican officials led by President Trump are resisting efforts to expand mail-in voting.

TRUMP: I'm very worried about mail-in voting because I think it's subject to tremendous fraud and being rigged.

PHILLIP: With long lines for primary voters and states like Georgia and Wisconsin, where polling places have been moved or consolidated because of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Congress is frozen largely along partisan lines on additional election funding for states during the pandemic, and on the Voting Rights Act. But it wasn't always this way.

CLARKE: Every renewal of the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by a Republican.

PHILLIP: Today, 12 Senate Republicans who voted to extend the voting rights act in 2006 are still in office. And the 2013 Supreme Court ruling the justices told Congress that they had the power to fix it.

The Democratic-led House voted to restore parts of the Voting Rights Act in December, with Lewis presiding. That bill was renamed this week for the late congressman but the Senate refuses to take it up. Since 2013 Supreme Court ruling, a study conducted by a civil rights group found 1,688 polling place closures from 2012 to 2018 and the states and counties that have previously been covered by the Voting Rights Act.

CLARKE: We can't underscore an enough how much backsliding we have faced in the country since the 2013 ruling.

PHILLIP: The stakes are high, politically, too, with the Voting Rights Act largely gutted, battleground states like Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina are no longer closely monitored. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Lewis this week, he dismisses voter suppression as a factor in the upcoming election, telling "The Wall Street Journal" there is very little tangible evidence of his whole voter suppression nonsense that the Democrats are promoting.

Former Vice President Joe Biden calling on Republicans to back their words with action.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Back that use of phrase we heard since he passed, especially from many of our Republican friends. Back it with some action. Protect that sacred right to vote that he's willing to die for.

PHILLIP: Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington.

BURNETT: Thanks so much to Abby, and thanks so much to you for joining us.

"AC60" starts now.